Newbies Watch and Learn

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 6:21 PM EDT

The best way for recent college grads to learn about office dress, hours, weekly workflow, and other key aspects of their first post-college jobs is to watch and learn, according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal. That simple advice allows college students understand the work environment, which in many ways has more rules than school (flip-flops are OK to wear to class but not to work) but the rules are more ambiguous (what about thong sandals?).

As a manager to a recent college grad, make sure they observe the behavior you want them to exhibit:

  • Set a good example so your employee picks up on the right cues. Show up to work at the time you want the employee to show up. Keep her up to date on your work schedule if that's what you expect from her.
  • Be clear about your expectations. Assign him a 2,000-word term paper, he'll know exactly what to do. Ask him to write a report, and he'll need much more direction in order to succeed. Walk him through the process so that he understands it for the next assignment.
  • Check in often. Remember that as a college student, she got frequent feedback: grades, comments, etc. Help steer her along the right course by asking how things are going and offering advice.
  • Encourage them to seek help from other employees. Not only will this informal mentoring help reduce your training responsibilities, but it will also help your new employee develop relationships with his coworkers. This is especially important as he makes the transition from the microcosm of college where everyone is the same age and experiencing the same things to a more diverse work environment.